Fall is an extremely busy and rewarding time for members of the National FFA Organization. We’re either attending a life changing National Convention, hosting a feed for the homecoming game, cutting firewood to help community members prepare for winter, or if you belong to the Cove FFA Chapter in Eastern Oregon, putting on one of our most expansive fundraisers and public education experience of the year, the Fall Festival.
To give you a bit of background, the Cove FFA is fairly new, this being our seventh year as a chapter. Two years ago, the school district purchased approximately three acres of land and started an agricultural education center which now includes poultry, almost an acre of school garden, a 30 by 80 foot greenhouse, and a very small-scale cattle production unit. In order to create a financially sustainable operation, veggies are sold through a local market that is run by members. Eggs are sold to the public and for the past two years, we have been hosting a pumpkin patch and fall festival.
The origins of the festival date back to an April of 2011 with something as simple as having the students of Cove school ranging from kindergarteners to the senior class plant pumpkin seeds in the FFA’s garden. By the time autumn arrived, our pumpkins were orange, plump, and prime for harvest. We then hosted a pumpkin sale in the middle of October. This year’s event however, expanded from merely selling pumpkins, to a full blown Fall Festival. An old-fashioned cider press was constructed by member Cameron McCowan to make our %100 pure apple cider and teach students about creating the beverage as well as marketing it. The press was a hit, being able to press 30 gallons of cider in one hour. Chapter Sentinel, Megan Espinola put together a petting zoo to create opportunities for kids to get an up close view of livestock and open their minds to an agricultural education by means of everything from horse rides, to feeding a bottle calf. When asked about what the petting zoo taught children, Espinola said “I feel that the kids got to experience the field of agriculture and being exposed to all different varieties of livestock brought the ‘farm’ just a little bit closer to home.” We also had our Discovery program selling pumpkin pies and cookies they had baked in a food science unit. In addition to the regular festival activities, members talked to the public about sustainability of the agricultural education center and what agriculture practices are being used. The final aspect of the festival was a bazaar featuring local vendors and organizations.
Although the Chapter did benefit from this fundraiser in sales and donations on this day, I believe that the greatest reward was being able to exhibit what we members can accomplish and what our Chapter and the FFA organization does for students everywhere.
Josey S Koehn
Cove FFA Chapter, Reporter